Paramount Ditches Film For Digital With Wolf of Wall Street

Paramount Ditches Film For Digital With Wolf of Wall Street

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Other studios are expected to follow suit, and soon 35 mm may be only a memory.

Paramount has quietly let slip that The Wolf of Wall Street is the first film it's released in digital only format. Other studios are expected to follow Paramount's lead, which could mean the death of 35 mm as a format within a year.

"For 120 years, film and 35 mm has been the format of choice for theatrical presentations," says Jan-Christopher Horak, director of the UCLA Film & Television Archive. "Now we're seeing the end of that. I'm not shocked that it's happened, but how quickly it has happened."

Paramount is expected to continue supplying 35 mm versions of its movies to foreign markets where cinemas may not be able to show digital product, as well as the vanishingly small number of US domestic cinemas that haven't switched to digital. However digital production is much cheaper, with discs costing perhaps $100 or less, while film prints can cost as much as $2,000 a pop. Come the day, the movie won't even need a disc; it'll be download only, straight to the cinema, eliminating shipping costs altogether.

Disney and 20th Century Fox have both said that they'll be switching to digital only soon, but haven't made the leap yet. Paramount, though it's reluctant to be seen to be the first - film still has many passionate advocates, including Martin Scorsese, the maker of Wolf - is the pioneer this time out.

Source: LA Times

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Is there any tangible benefit to film or is it just nostalgia?

If not I don't see how this could be a bad thing.

and not for long and we cant get any dvd anymore either. i surely dont want to buy a new HDD just to watch movies.

I saw Wolf of Wall Street last night and could tell it was a digital projection. The cinema was packed so I was in the second row. Not a hugely bad seat but close enough to see individual pixels, especially during the credits. It's a shame too because I find film to be far more enjoyable than digital from an experience point of view. Film just loses some of its charm when there's no actual film involved. If you haven't ever tried setting up an 8 or 16mm projector in your home and watching a real film, I highly recommend it. It can be a b*tch to get working, but it's great fun when it does work!

This change over was always bound to happen, but it'll come at a cost. Films shot on 35 or 70mm can be rescanned and increased in digital resolution many, many times - 4K, 8K and upwards (although it does eventually get to a point where you hit the limit of the image quality). Digital on the other hand is locked at whatever resolution it was initially captured at and that's it. Oh sure, you can upscale it, but you're not adding any new information into the picture. It's ultimately no different than just stretching it to make it bigger. Stars Wars Episodes 2 and 3 have that problem. They were shot at 1080p, so the res you get in the Blu-rays is literally all the quality you will ever see from them. The Original Trilogy, on the other hand, will one day be presented in 8K and higher (provided the Originals are ever properly preserved that is - not the crapified "Special Editions" we have now).

Phrozenflame500:
Is there any tangible benefit to film or is it just nostalgia?

If not I don't see how this could be a bad thing.

Digital (even ultra high quality) is still made up of pixels, therefore it can make the lines in the image slightly more jagged as well as making less subtle color variations in large color surfaces (just zoom in on an internet picture with Paint). There are huge advantages though, such as virtually indestructible originals and less physical space required for storage

It's quite a bummer. One can still get more from film than the usual digital tech that is in use today. Movies still aren't commonly shot in 4K (The Wolf may be but dunno) and cinema projectors are just around 1080p.

Uh, yeah, the switch to digital has been a rapidly ongoing process for the past 2-3 years. The local beer-and-movie theater had to run a Kickstarter a couple years ago in order to get a $35,000 digital projector since they would no longer able to get movies on film reel.

As someone unedcated in this matter, i honestly didn't know film was still used i assumed it was all done digital these days. I haven't noticed a difference when i went to see wolf the other day so im fine with this.

Phrozenflame500:
Is there any tangible benefit to film or is it just nostalgia?

If not I don't see how this could be a bad thing.

Digital distribution isn't better than film distribution. However, without the money from distributing films, the houses that produce 35mm film are going out of business. That means you won't be able to use film to SHOOT movies (an important distinction), which is going to kind of suck. Right now, Digital film cameras are pretty good at somethings but not very good at others.

So, did Scorsese shoot this with film or was it digital? Doesn't shooting it in digital make it easier/ better for editing and special effects?

Woah, people in the movie industry still use film?
I remember from the production blogs on The Hobbit that they were using two RED Epics, and I assumed similar setups were the standard for big-budget films.

Speaking as a projectionist, this is a bitter pill to swallow. I have loved working with 35mm film for the two years of my job at my town's theatre. Chances are, the theatre will probably have to close its doors by the end of this year, but some good movies have been shown, and I can't be disappointed by that.

All the Paramount thing tells me is that anymore Marvel movies that are part of the Avengers story will have to be seen in a distant, further town, which is about two hours away, which sucks, but I can't say we didn't try.

upgray3dd:

Phrozenflame500:
Is there any tangible benefit to film or is it just nostalgia?

If not I don't see how this could be a bad thing.

Digital distribution isn't better than film distribution. However, without the money from distributing films, the houses that produce 35mm film are going out of business. That means you won't be able to use film to SHOOT movies (an important distinction), which is going to kind of suck. Right now, Digital film cameras are pretty good at somethings but not very good at others.

To be honest the main difference between the two these days is the grain (most people prefer film grain to the digital equivilent noise, and cost. If you really like the film grain there are methods to fake it which wither just involve carefully exposed film scans or more dynamic systems that take those scans and replecate the patterns.

There did used to be a number of issues, dymamic range (the range of brightnesses where you still have detail in the brighest and darkest parts of the frame) being one of the big ones, but cameras like the RED Epic and the ARRI alexa pretty much meet this, and the way film deals with things near the edges (again alot better these days).

If you cant get a shot on a high end digital film camera these days its almost certain you can't get it on a super 35mm film camera (the dominant format).

Tests have shown that super 35mm film resolves detail at a rate equivilent to about 3.5k of resolution (in cinema resolution is measured horizontally not vertically so 1080 is roughly 2k in cinema speak) but due to the slightly ireegular nature of film grain that it should be scanned at at least 4k to get that level of detail (calling HD too detailed is therefore a curious argument for film being better as film is higher resolution).

Even before digital shooting and projection took off most films had been scanned and digitally manipulated for a while, and then printed back onto film. This last bit is one of the final nails in the coffin for super 35mm based projection as not only is film expensive, but the time to correct the digital version to take account of the properties of film costs (and in post time is very expensive).

Ironically film makes a better backup than most digital media, shoved in an attic and forgotten about a great quality film print will exist long after a DVD, or Hard disk have become unreadble. In a climate controlled vault film will outlast generations of servers. Eventually this will change, and the limitations of current stoarage can be got around, but dont scoff at film as a backup source.

shogunblade:
Speaking as a projectionist, this is a bitter pill to swallow. I have loved working with 35mm film for the two years of my job at my town's theatre. Chances are, the theatre will probably have to close its doors by the end of this year, but some good movies have been shown, and I can't be disappointed by that.

All the Paramount thing tells me is that anymore Marvel movies that are part of the Avengers story will have to be seen in a distant, further town, which is about two hours away, which sucks, but I can't say we didn't try.

I loved to build prints with my coworkers and as we went to digital time together slowly eroded away 'til it was just to of us left coming in Wednesdays and Thursdays to take over each other's shifts, then sit alone feeding hard drives to servers and starting at a couple screens all day/night.

Phrozenflame500:
Is there any tangible benefit to film or is it just nostalgia?

If not I don't see how this could be a bad thing.

To give you a behind the scenes comparison here's my experience from my old job: Film can be moved from projector to projector. You just need one print for every house you want to show it in, unless you have a link system for two projectors then you can show one print to two houses with about 30-60 sec lag between the other. Digital loads up on the projector's HDD and as long as you have space you can have popular movies in every house you want. It just takes a while to load it from either the theater server on the HDDs that come by Fed Ex. Management never quite understood that where I worked and always scheduled a busy Fri or Sat without asking us if it's ready or if the projectors even have space for 4 or 5 large movies.

Film also came in can as reels of about 20 min a piece that had to be spliced together along with 4-6 trailers to work in a automated multiplex projector. That adds to cost since your renting $1000-$2000 of mile long easily scratched ribbon that takes 30-45 minutes for a guy to tape together while making sure will stay in frame, and it had to be torn down to those reels to be sent back at the end of a run. Multiply that by how many prints you get that week. They sometime locked cans so no one could watch/pirate it early and gave us codes through email Thursdays even though we need time to watch it to check those splices AND have a midnight show.(Marvel, I'm looking at you).

Digital comes on hard drive in those pelican cases. Our sever and one model of projector had hot swap bays that took about 30 minutes to load most film and trailer mix drives. Until they were networked, the other model had just a USB2.0 port that took the real time of the film to load. Gigabit networking still took a long time since it was usually saturated with traffic. Like I said management was still use to moving psychical prints in about 5 minutes if a show was in danger of selling out in a smaller house. Then there's building the digital playlist it's easy as add trailers,theater branded snipes, the feature and cues to tell light levelsm, 2D/3D and projector functions all on a time line like a simple non-linear video editor with clips. The major problem was Keys/KDMs/licenses. Each feature needs a KDM matched to it and the serial number of the projector WHILE in the right date range. We alway had problem with those not loading right, some who isn't trained properly telling they loaded, or moving a print to another house to find the distributor didn't email us that one single key we now need. Good times. We eventually programed everything to automatically play without anyone upstairs. Sucked for us though since robots had just took over most of our job.

Oh and virtually all Digital is still 2K (1080p 24/48fps) as 4k systems are expensive and not worth it till more film are shot like that. Film can get dirty or scratched and tends to look grainy to me. I just thought I'd share that with everyone since movie makers put the making of documentary on their DVDs, the guys who are literally showing you the movie could use some recognition.

It sucks to see film go that way. I don't think it'll ever be truly dead though. There will still be a group of filmmakers that prefer to shoot in film than in digital.

Sgt. Sykes:
It's quite a bummer. One can still get more from film than the usual digital tech that is in use today. Movies still aren't commonly shot in 4K (The Wolf may be but dunno) and cinema projectors are just around 1080p.

There are some 4K and 2K theaters around, but yeah, most of them are 1080p. I think my friend told me that in all of L.A. there's only three theaters that run higher than that.

If they're projecting in 1080p, then the picture quality is almost always going to be objectively worse than watching a Bluray on a well-calibrated TV, because projectors tend to have poor contrast ratio.

Phrozenflame500:
Is there any tangible benefit to film or is it just nostalgia?

If not I don't see how this could be a bad thing.

Shooting on film? Yes.

Theatrical presentation? No. It's much easier to send a digital copy to a theatre, way cheaper, there's no chance of the print ripping, getting dirty, and so on.

guise709:
It sucks to see film go that way. I don't think it'll ever be truly dead though. There will still be a group of filmmakers that prefer to shoot in film than in digital.

It doesn't say they're not going to stop shooting on film, just stop distributing film prints to theatres. That's a good thing. Many movies are still shot on film though. There are still quite a few situations in which shooting on film is way better.

Good ridance. There is no need to use technilogy that is harder to handle and more fragile for no tangible benefit other than nostalgia.

Jasper van Heycop:

Phrozenflame500:
Is there any tangible benefit to film or is it just nostalgia?

If not I don't see how this could be a bad thing.

Digital (even ultra high quality) is still made up of pixels, therefore it can make the lines in the image slightly more jagged as well as making less subtle color variations in large color surfaces (just zoom in on an internet picture with Paint). There are huge advantages though, such as virtually indestructible originals and less physical space required for storage

if you need to superzoom to even notice it, is it really a problem though? im sure that maybe in 100 years we will look at it as "wow such low quality" but does that really matter NOW?

redisforever:

guise709:
It sucks to see film go that way. I don't think it'll ever be truly dead though. There will still be a group of filmmakers that prefer to shoot in film than in digital.

It doesn't say they're not going to stop shooting on film, just stop distributing film prints to theatres. That's a good thing. Many movies are still shot on film though. There are still quite a few situations in which shooting on film is way better.

Wait, they were actually distributing FILM to theaters? the theaters here havent been usign anything but digital for a decade at least.

UNHchabo:
There are some 4K and 2K theaters around, but yeah, most of them are 1080p. I think my friend told me that in all of L.A. there's only three theaters that run higher than that.

If they're projecting in 1080p, then the picture quality is almost always going to be objectively worse than watching a Bluray on a well-calibrated TV, because projectors tend to have poor contrast ratio.

This is very much true, and the reason why i now go to the only theater in my country that has the 4K technology (they bought it last summer) and can run 4K 48FPS if they have the source material for that.

guise709:
It sucks to see film go that way. I don't think it'll ever be truly dead though. There will still be a group of filmmakers that prefer to shoot in film than in digital.

There is also a group of people that play patefon recordings and use VHS tapes. Does not mean progress is going to care about them.

So, my first thought was, "Huh, so this hadn't already happened"? I just assumed distributors and theaters had made the jump to all-digital years ago.

 

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